Summary: This evidence is going to review the Scriptural evidence to determine if Jesus was a revolutionary.
Was Jesus a Revolutionary?
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
One of the first courses that I took at Seminary was Christian history. I frankly was not looking forward to the course, for history was not a topic I particularly liked in High School. As the professor began to tell us the story of the first Crusade I soon realized how gifted he was in making history come alive! In 1098 the task was to get to Antioch of which there were two routes: around the mountains or through the Syrian Gates. Most of the Crusaders took the safe route and went around the mountains and in doing so drew out the Arab army. Once this happened the rest of the Crusaders went through the Syrian Gate which was not guarded because the Arabs thought no one in their right mind would go through this indefensible area. They in turn found little resistance and easily conquered the city. After the Crusaders defeated the Arabs they retreated to the desert but later returned and surrounded the city. With no way to escape and cut off from the supplies of their Norman ships, a long-term siege meant certain defeat for the Crusaders. It was at this moment that one of the chaplains, a monk named Peter Bartholomew said he saw a vision of a lance that pierced Jesus side being buried right beneath their feat. Since Antioch had seen many wars the chance of finding a lance was almost certain and once found Peter declared this relic was a sign from Christ of a guaranteed victory. Without fear and full of passion they stormed out of the gates of the city and caught the Arabs off guard and defeated them.
“We are Going to Change the World”
Revolutions fire the imagination filling people with a vivid picture of a Utopian future full of laughter, justice and abundance. On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I have a dream” speech that inspired America to see a future of racial and economic equality and justice for all people, regardless of their skin color! Nelson Mandela, a South African revolutionary became a symbol of strength and hope as he kept the vision of abolishing institutionalized racial segregation in the foremost of the people’s minds. By humbly helping the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, Mother Teresa challenged people all over the world to see value in all human life. Not all revolutionaries are non-violent, nor do they paint a picture of social justice. For example, in his vision to conquer the world Genghis Khan brutally killed about 11 percent of the world’s population in his lifetime. With the vison of instilling a purely agrarian communist society, Pol Pot killed about one-fifth of Cambodia’s population in just four years. Having blamed the loss of World War I and the economic downfall of Germany on the Jews, Hitler rallied his nation to slaughter over six million of them between 1941 and 1945.
Was Jesus a Revolutionary?
The secular world does not have a monopoly when it comes to people that dream big and inspire others to seek an alternative future! The call for societal change has echoed from the sanctuaries of the churches, synagogues and mosques of major religions during one time or another. While their calls to change were often like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa’s non-violence and peaceful protests; others see change only possible by destroying the “present systems of social order and government.” So, this brings me to the main question to be answered in today’s sermon: was Jesus a revolutionary and if so was He looking for change through peaceful or violent means? To answer this question, I am first going to look at a group named the Zealots and clear up some misconceptions concerning what kind of change Jesus came to this earth to instill. Second, while Jesus had zeal for His Father’s house, His cleansing of the temple was not a violent revolution to abolish Jewish customs but to fulfill them. And lastly, I am going to finish by explaining that the revolt that Jesus wanted was one of allegiance to His Father and as such His teachings were viewed dangerous enough to get Him crucified and yet ironically it was through this act and His resurrection that this event would forever changed the world!
Association with the Zealots?
Since Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand and had at least one disciple that formerly belonged to a group called the Zealots, He was sometimes associated with this radical, violent group. “Zealot” was a name given to a group of the late Second Temple period and in the Bible referred those whom had a “jealous desire to protect one’s self, group, space or time against any violations” of “God’s right to exclusive allegiance from Israel.” After having read of stories of zealous vengeance in the Old Testament such as Simeon and Levi killing the men of Shechem for the rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34:1-31), Elijah killing the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-40; 19:10-18) and king Josiah rooting out idolatry in the land (2 Kings 22:1-23:30); this group felt that zeal for God meant taking justice into their own hands. Many members of this group carried swords or daggers and became known as the “Sicarii” which meant “cut-throats or assassins.” In Jesus’ day the main goal of the Zealots was to always be ready to overthrow Rome through violence. They started a political-religious revolt that led to the Jewish war against Rome in A.D. 66 and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70.